On the field, the final whistle sounded and in the VIP stands, a pigtailed blond girl dressed from head to toe in Canadian fan regalia moaned miserably: "Maple, four to nothing!"
The brunette lady next to her, looking slightly misplaced in the stadium with her neat bun and elegant designer clothes, ceased her cheering to gaze at her in concern. The only signs of her team loyalty were two heart-shaped French flags on her cheeks and a scarf.
"Oh Maguerite!" Marianne gave an exasperated sigh as she pulled her former colony into her arms. She was proud that she didn't wince when Maguerite's tears stained the silk blouse Karl had designed just for her. "It's just a game, silly girl. That's nothing to shed tears over."
Maguerite raised her face slowly from where it was buried against Marianne's bosom – many a nation and human alike would have liked to switch places with her right then. Maguerite had completely different concerns. Teary blue eyes peered at Marianne from underneath the wide brim of her gigantic red-and-white Canada hat. She wore the most adorable little pouty frown that was guaranteed to make Marianne's resistance melt in 2.5 seconds at a max. "That's not what you said last year!"
Marianne's lips compressed into a thin line. "That was different! The spoilt little brats humiliated me in front of the entire world!"
Maguerite snuffled loudly.
Marianne gave a disgusted wince; she had raised the girl to have better manners. "Use a tissue!" That damned Alice…
She cleared her throat delicately. "Either way, I won't have you wallowing in self-pity on a perfectly nice day!"
Maguerite took off her glasses to wipe her eyes properly and flashed Marianne a wavering smile. "But my girls worked so hard! I knew your and Luise's teams are strong, but I really thought we stood a chance if we gave our best. I just lost the Stanley Cup to Amelia and now this!"
Marianne couldn't help preening a bit at the praise for her team. Her gaze flitted to the field for the first time since she had started to comfort Maguerite. Pride shone in her violet eyes as she watched her girls celebrate. "There's another women's world cup in four years. You will do better next time."
She nodded. Her forced smile became a bit more heartfelt. "You should be celebrating with your team, maman."
Marianne dismissed the objection with a wave of her perfectly manicured hand. "I will. Later."
"Thank you, maman," Maguerite said and gave Marianne another quick hug.
"Come on, let's join our teams… and find out what damage Kumarie has caused in the Canadian locker room. Bringing a polar bear to the stadium, really, what were you thinking?" She wrinkled her nose delicately. Polar bear hairs on her clothes were such a hassle.
Marguerite laughed softly and permitted Marianne to drag her along by the hand.
"And just so you know, if I play England in the quarterfinal, you will be cheering for me!"